In various historic records consulted, the pub is listed as The Cricketers, The Cricketer’s Inn, The Cricketers’ Inn and The Cricketers’ Arms. 1858 and 1859 copies of White’s Directory of 1858 list Henry Ifould as Keeper of a shop and beerhouse. He is also mentioned in the 1861 census as ‘an Inn Keeper on Church Common’. At this point, Church Road Steep was not a road at all, but only existed as a track across the common land known as Church Common or ‘The Commons’. This common land is not what we now know as our present Steep Common, opposite the church, but instead was the land at the western end of the Church Road track, lying between the present Mill Lane and Stoner Hill Road. It is believed that a number of squatters lived on this common land and Henry Ifould may have been one of them. The Cricketers pub did not exist in its present position then. Henry Ifould must have been reasonably successful with his shop and beerhouse (perhaps on the common?) because he then purchased plot 55, for £40, on the corner of the newly emerging Church Road and the road up Stoner towards Froxfield. This is confirmed by the 1866 Enclosure Acts. Meanwhile, Kelly’s Post Office Directory of Hampshire for 1867 placed Henry Ifould at the Cricketers’ Inn on the Common.
By the time of the 1871 census, Alfred Pocock was named as an “Innkeeper and Grocer” at Cricketers Inn and in 1875 his description in a Trade Directory was “Cricketer Inn & shopkeeper”. Mr Pocock then left, possibly around 1878 – 9. The next census of 1881 shows that Edwin John Longhurst replaced him, Mr Longhurst was described as “Publican & Grocer” at Cricketers Inn. He was still there for the 1891 census. The Register of Licences 1892 – 1894 confirms this. He then surrendered his licence to George Wakeford in June 1896. A variety of sources confirm Mr Wakeford as publican until, in June 1906, William Budd took over. The Register of Licences show Mr Budd to be the longest serving publican. He (and briefly between 1918 – 1920 his wife Justine) held the licence of the pub from 1906 – 1935. Harry Grimshaw was licensee after WWII.
Other tales have been reported, yet to be confirmed, of a licensee of The Cricketers who was put in prison and of a possible fire at the Cricketers. Old photographs show The Cricketers to have been a very different building from the present one. My grateful thanks go to the late Ruth Whiting for her meticulous research for this article, published in the Steep and Stroud Newsletter in March 2013.